Armor: April 20, 2000


: The US Army has officially started transforming the 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division and the 1st Brigade of the 25th Light Infantry Division (both based at Fort Lewis, Washington) into Medium Brigades. While the move has been planned since last October, this is the first time that soldiers and equipment have been reassigned as the units transform to the new structure. The two initial brigades are designed to test the concept (as well as new equipment that might be used) while providing the US Army with what it currently lacks: easily deployable brigades that are mobile and could, at least in theory, survive in a defensive action against heavy enemy armor. Each brigade includes three infantry battalions, an artillery battalion, a recon battalion, and other units. The recon battalion is considered key to the entire concept, since it must provide the unit with a better picture of the battlefield than US troops have ever had before. This is the only way that the brigades can avoid being destroyed by heavier enemy units (which have the advantage of arriving at the battlefield on their own tracks instead of on limited numbers of expensive cargo planes), by knowing where the enemy is. This knowledge will allow the brigades wheeled armored cars to stay out of the way of enemy tanks, but to attack key enemy weaknesses that will halt the larger units. In another key change, each company will include both wheeled armored personnel carriers and tank destroyers built on the same chassis. This provides permanent combined arms teams at the lowest level ever, and will make the units more flexible and cohesive in combat. The 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry will be ready for combat by Dec 2001; the 1st Brigade of the 25th Light will be ready by Dec 2002. The units are currently being equipped with LAV armored cars borrowed from Canada.--Stephen V Cole




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